Pedigree: “Gargantua” was published in French, in the early sixteenth century, written by a friar and scholar named Francois Rabelais. Mr. Furnivall mentions a 1596 book titled “The History of Gargantua”, listed on a Stationers’ Register from that date, but no surviving copy of that printing. He conjectures that “Laneham had seen the French original in his travels, and spoke of that here, without thinking whether Captain Cox knew French or not”.
Synopsis: Furnivall, uncharacteristically, includes neither a synopsis nor any quotes from the tales in his write-up of this work. The series of five books collectively referred to as “Gargantua and Pantagruel” focus mainly on the second character, Pantagruel (called “King of the Dipsodes” by Rabelais). Only the first (written) / second (published) book “stars” Gargantua, who is Pantagruel’s father. The two characters are both giants, and both share a love of good wine, many bawdy and scatalogical habits, an earthy sense of humor and (???) a scholarly avocation.
I have not yet plunged into this work, if any readers have done so and would like to comment I would welcome such opinions. I became interested after listening to a recording of sixteenth century songs by Ensemble Clement Janequin called “Une Fete Chez Rabelais”, which selected works by composers named in Rabelais’ Prologue to Book 4.
Project Gutenberg has a well-known mid-seventeenth century translation by Thomas Urqhart here: